We already know water is the healthiest beverage out there. It promotes weight loss, helps improve your skin’s complexion, reduces fatigue, and flushes out toxins, among a host of other amazing benefits. It can’t get any better, right?
According to some, it can. It’s called hydrogen water.
Though it’s been a big trend in Japan since the 1960s (where it’s known as “Shin’nooru solution”) hydrogen water has only recently made waves stateside.
Proponents of hydrogen water claim it’ll do wonders for your health, and celebs like Blake Lively and Zac Efron are known to sip on it as well. But is it as good as the hype suggests? Here’s what you need to know about hydrogen water before you switch up your “basic” H2O habit.
What is Hydrogen Water?
In short, it’s water with extra molecular hydrogen. Regular H2O has hydrogen too, of course (hence the “H”) but it’s at a really low concentration. “Regular water already has hydrogen in it, but it’s combined with oxygen in a molecular form, so it can’t be released,” explains Dr. Cody Cook, President and Chief Medical Scientist of HTWO, which has the distinction of being the first beverage infused with molecular hydrogen in the United States
Through several means, an extra molecule of hydrogen is added to make “hydrogen water.”
The result? “A purified crisp clean water with unique gas composition in it.”
What are the Benefits?
According to Dr. Nicholas Perricone M.D., a board-certified dermatologist and nutritionist, who launched his own hydrogen water brand after conducting his own research, there are many.
“Hydrogen has a powerful antioxidant activity,” says Dr. Perricone, citing that hydrogen water helps turn your cells into “an antioxidant factory.” He adds, “It has other properties to it besides it being an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. It also increases your energy in a very nice way. It’s kind of unusual because we’ve never felt a burst of energy like this before unless it was associated with a food like sugar or carbohydrate, fat or protein, or a stimulant, like caffeine.”
Dr. Perricone also claims hydrogen water has deepened his meditation practice and aids in rapid muscle recovery. “When I drink hydrogen water after my workout, I feel I can do another workout,” he says.
Like Dr. Perricone, Dr. Cook’s HWTO also claims to boosts endurance, reduces lactic acid, reduces fatigue, and provides antioxidants. “This isn’t just a product that you use one time,” Dr. Cook says. “It needs to be used daily. I think it’s important for people to understand what it is and what are the benefits of it.”
Another potential bonus? Dr. Perricone suggests hydrogen water is a beauty elixir. “As a nutritionist as well, I always think beauty comes from the inside out. Looking at the results of the hydrogen water, I really think hydrogen water is the ultimate beauty drink,” he says. “The subjects we looked at, their skin became more radiant, their skin appeared firmer, their pores looked tighter.”
Who is Hydrogen Water For?
Both Dr. Cody and Dr. Perricone say hydrogen water is for everyone.
“Hydrogen is this amazing drink that is good for all people,” Dr. Perricone says, citing that the drink is perfect for everyone from students to people who do physical labor to athletes.
Dr. Cody has seen similar results. “It’s the best for the family, it’s best for everyone,” he says, adding: “We have a lot of track-and-field athletes who are currently using it to improve their performances. We have a great following in marathoners who are loyal to our brand and swear by it.”
Is it Too Good to Be True?
However, there are some in the medical and science field who don’t support the hydrogen water movement.
“I would say that a con may be that companies are promoting benefits that may not have been proven and people are putting their faith in something that is not well researched,” says Dr. Kristi Wrightson, a Naturopath and a Registered Dietician “Also, most hydrogen water is not occurring naturally and needs to be forced to have more hydrogen. At this point we don’t know any ill effects of this process, but water picks up energy from everything it passes and the electricity that is used in the process may have an effect that we don’t need.”
Caleb Backe, a Health and Wellness Expert for Maple Holistics, agrees. “In truth the health potential health benefits don’t actually come from the hydrogen, they come from the hydroxyl ions,” he says. “Hydrogenated water is just a really expensive way of doing this. Just drink regular water with ionizers; in other words, drink alkaline. Ionized water has all the benefits of hydrogen water at much less cost.”
Dr. Wrightston agrees: “Having a good balance of naturally occurring alkaline mineral water (one that is alkaline from a spring not a machine) plus just natural filtered spring water is what works best for most people.”
Not only is the research on hydrogen water pretty slim, but it’s a pretty costly H2O habit to keep up. A pack of 30 (8.3 oz.) cans from Dr. Perricone will run you $90, while one case of 28 pouches (16.9 oz) from HTWO costs $98.
Of course, there’s no real harm in trying hydrogen water and discovering for yourself how it reacts with your body, but a cheaper and effective option might be more up your alley: It’s called water.
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